“A dirty knife and a folding table”

Erin Lynn Nau, PhD, LCSW
3 min readMay 3, 2022

Finding out that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe vs Wade yesterday did not come as a surprise. This has been a long time coming.

I remember watching Dirty Dancing when I was an adolescent, seeing the post-abortion scene and not understanding why they would be in so much trouble. Part of it was because I was too young to know much about abortion but part of it was also that I have lived in a country where abortion was always legal. My young brain could not comprehend how going to a doctor for a medical procedure could get you into trouble.

As grew older I saw giant signs with fetuses on them held by people shouting “Murderer!” in major intersections in my Christian/conservative community. They wanted this day to come. This influenced me, it imprinted on the core of my being, but not in the way they intended. I have always been pro-choice.

I remember when Sandra Day O’Connor retired saying that this day was coming. People said “Don’t worry your pretty little head. It will never happen.”

When a Supreme Court seat was stolen from Merrick Garland. I knew this would happen.

In 2016 when people were terrified of voting for a powerful, smart, over-qualified WOMAN. I knew this would happen.

When they moved lines so it was harder for everyone to vote and it changed the electoral college so that despite having a resounding majority of the votes SHE lost the election. I knew this would happen.

When I cried myself to sleep in November 2016 I knew this would happen.

I live in a liberal state. After hearing the news last night, my governor posted that women’s right to choose would always be safe in my state.

I am also a privileged white woman, just outside of her fertility years. I am safe.

This has never been solely about my right to choose how whether or not I want to bear a child.

The children I love are not safe, they will not be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies. When they watch Dirty Dancing, they will understand in their gut what is happening and worry that it could happen to them. They will know that abortions are still happening using “a dirty knife and a folding table”. They will know that women die. This is about all women, especially Black and Brown women, having control over their bodies, their medical care, and their decisions about when and if they wanted to have a family.

Most Americans believe that Roe vs. Wade should stand. But the people who are most afraid of us, of our power, do not trust our choices. Do not trust us to choose when and if to have a child, to choose our education, to choose our lives.

When I first heard the news last night my first question was “Why do they hate us? Why are they afraid of us?” I was reminded “They know our power.” Living in a white patriarchal society means that women, especially women of color will always be feared.

I do not feel powerful today. I feel hopeless. I feel scared. I am heartbroken, especially for poor women, for Black and Brown women. I don’t know what the next steps are. But when I figure it out, I will do it. I will fight like hell to and use my privilege to fight for the women who don’t have any.

Hand me my armor- Sara Bareilles



Erin Lynn Nau, PhD, LCSW

Feminist. Social Worker. Researcher. I am a PhD candidate whose research focuses on self-worth and early adolescent girls. www.erinlnau.com